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Why follow a jointer plane with a smoothing plane. Just don't get it.

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Forum topic by zzzzdoc posted 09-19-2015 10:53 PM 1606 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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zzzzdoc

526 posts in 2466 days


09-19-2015 10:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane jointer plane smoothing plane

Can someone explain a question I’ve been wondering about for a while. Once you get a surface perfectly flat with a #7 jointer plane, won’t a #4 smoothing plane cause small ripples, as it’s surface is quite a bit shorter. It always struck me that this is a step backwards.

And why does a #4 plane produce a smoother surface than an equally sharp #7.

I realize there must be a reason for all this, as it’s often quoted, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.


16 replies so far

View Pezking7p's profile

Pezking7p

3097 posts in 1114 days


#1 posted 09-19-2015 10:56 PM

Typically you are taking a thinner shaving with a smoothing plane than with a jointer. Also, the shorter sole is to allow it to follow contours, saves a lot of work on surfaces which aren’t perfectly flat.

-- -Dan

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hhhopks

645 posts in 1840 days


#2 posted 09-20-2015 11:17 AM

I struggle with the concept myself. Here is what I have concluded:

If there is such thing as a perfectly flat board, then I would say all the number planes can do all the functions as long as the blade are sharpened the same. Which one to use is depends on what you preferred for the specific task. Logistic wise is that certain size are slightly better than others because of weight preferences. Because the board starts out being non-flat it does make sense the longer planes will allow us to obtain flatness quicker for the task.

But is it possible to have a perfectly flat board? Machinist and Mechanical Engineer specializing in material science that I have work with says, we call something flat because it is acceptable to us or it is within some specification tolerance of being flat.

Bigger plane are better in making lumber flat then short plane. Though you have completed the task to flatten the board, there is no such thing as perfectly flat. Right? Our eyes can’t see it and our instrument may not even able tell the differences. But there are still contours on your board. Since the next task’s focus is on smoothing, you want a shorter plane to have a reasonable chance to follow all the ups and downs. Typically, the setting of blade is to take very light fluffy shaving. This smoothing task requires a very refined tuning of the plane and especially on the blade.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2030 days


#3 posted 09-20-2015 12:03 PM

Smooth is smooth. If the jointer gives the surface you want you can skip the smoother.

In theory, a jointer will have some degree of camber and a smoother will not, (a finish smoother) but in practice its all about how you sharpen your planes.

Many even have different smoothers, some with a slight camber, then hit it with a finish smoother.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View cutmantom's profile

cutmantom

389 posts in 2497 days


#4 posted 09-20-2015 12:08 PM

Jointed is more of a roughing tool or dimensioning tool, for face planing it should have a camber on the iron and will leave ridges, smoother takes a finer cut and takes the ridges down to finer smaller ridges
My 2ยข

View lateralus819's profile

lateralus819

2236 posts in 1352 days


#5 posted 09-20-2015 02:41 PM

My jointer plane leaves just as good a finish as my smoother. I leave it at that.

Sometimes I’ll smooth a panel with the jointer if it’s flat enough.

View Tim Anderson's profile

Tim Anderson

152 posts in 1193 days


#6 posted 09-20-2015 03:04 PM

I agree with the other posters here. My #7 is set to a bit deeper cut for rough dimensioning and to get generally flat, and my smoother is set to a much shallower cut for touch-up and making everything shiny and perfect. I also only go to the #7 after using the scrub plane on a diagonal for the really rough lumber to make sure it’s all fairly straight and twist free. The #7 only comes out to take off the ridges left by the scrub plane.

Often the #7 will produce a surface just as good as the smoother, but if it’s a long board and there’s a little dip in the middle that won’t effect any of the joinery, instead of planing the entire board down to get to that one little low spot, I just hit it with the shorter plane (or scraper) to get the nice finish surface. Since it’s in an area where it won’t effect the structure / joinery of whatever I’m working on, I don’t mind a little dip. Just saves a bit of work planing the entire board to get the low spot to look nice.

-- -Tim, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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Tim

3113 posts in 1424 days


#7 posted 09-20-2015 04:53 PM

I agree, it’s mostly about speed. If you set your jointer up like a smoother with a very tight mouth opening and close chip breaker for the finest shavings and smoothest surface it would take you forever to flatten it. But once you do have it flat with the jointer that’s not set up for quite as fine shavings, then the smoother can be tuned up and ready to finish it off rather than resetting and tuning up the jointer for very fine shavings.

View Sunstealer73's profile

Sunstealer73

121 posts in 1555 days


#8 posted 09-20-2015 07:28 PM

Find and read Christopher Schwarz’s article on Coarse, Medium, and Fine. He explains what you are asking.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4027 posts in 1814 days


#9 posted 09-20-2015 08:09 PM

If you get your surface perfectly flat and smooth w/ the jointer then you need go no further. But more typically once you get a flat surface w/ the jointer you also may have some tear out and that is when you go to the smoother plane and or scrapers. Many, in fact, most surfaces in wood working don’t need to be perfectly flat they just have to look flat, like table tops or panels in frames. But they have to be smooth, the smoothing plane can save you a lot of sanding. I think most of us take more care in sharpening our smoothing planes than the other types because we’re trying to get as close to that final finish as possible.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View zzzzdoc's profile

zzzzdoc

526 posts in 2466 days


#10 posted 09-22-2015 02:30 AM

So, basically, you get it relatively flat with the jointer plane, then smooth out the tearout and rough spots with the smoothing plane, even though it makes it a little less flat, but not noticeably.

That sound sorta correct?

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3560 days


#11 posted 09-22-2015 03:33 AM



So, basically, you get it relatively flat with the jointer plane, then smooth out the tearout and rough spots with the smoothing plane, even though it makes it a little less flat, but not noticeably.

That sound sorta correct?

- zzzzdoc

Chris Schwarz has a whole video on this called course, medium, and fine.

Jack, scrub or fore plane is course entry, jointer medium, and smoothing fine.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View JayT's profile (online now)

JayT

4775 posts in 1673 days


#12 posted 09-22-2015 11:42 AM

bondo nailed the explanation, as far as I’m concerned


So, basically, you get it relatively flat with the jointer plane, then smooth out the tearout and rough spots with the smoothing plane, even though it makes it a little less flat, but not noticeably.

That sound sorta correct?

- zzzzdoc

Exactly.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2192 posts in 943 days


#13 posted 09-22-2015 12:30 PM

Like some others said, if you’re jointer is well tuned meaning blade is sharp, mouth is closed up, and wood is cooperating ;-) often times you can stop right there and maybe just do a light pass with a scraper.

My #6 is my “go to” plane. I use it probably 75% of the time and for any board over 2 feet.
I keep my smoother set up with a very close mouth, extremely sharp blade and very light set for that final finish.

You’ll figure out what works best for you.
Often times the wood determines which plane to use.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View zzzzdoc's profile

zzzzdoc

526 posts in 2466 days


#14 posted 09-22-2015 02:43 PM

I’m relatively new to hand tools. I’m fortunate in that I was able to buy some very good ones, and have been SLOWLY getting better at sharpening them. But, clearly, I’ve got a way to go with hand tool skills (e.g. I’m terrible with spokeshaves – often create tearout, much better with rasps and planes).

What is clear is that there is tremendously good advice out there / here. What is also clear, is that what works well for some, clearly doesn’t work well for others.

-- Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

View mramseyISU's profile

mramseyISU

419 posts in 1008 days


#15 posted 09-22-2015 03:03 PM

I do follow up with a shorter plane when I want to do a spring joint. I’ll get it flat with the No 7 and come back and take a little out of the middle with my No 4 so I can use less clamps on the joint.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

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